expertreviews: Coffee has been making mornings more palatable since the 16th century, and in the intervening 500 years, the humble coffee bean has spawned a huge range of different coffee-based drinks. But whether you’re a fan of cappuccino, macchiato, espresso, or just plain old filter coffee, there’s a coffee maker out there that will make the perfect cup of joe every time.
The first question you need to ask yourself is this: do you want an automatic coffee maker for barista-style brews; a filter coffee maker for jugs of hot coffee; or do you want the simplicity of a single-serve pod or capsule coffee maker?
If you’re not quite sure what you’re after, then our in-depth coffee maker buying guide at the bottom of the page will help you sort your espresso from your Nespresso. If you just want to start shopping for your perfect coffee maker, then read on and we’ll quickly explain the basic types of coffee maker on the market.
How to choose the best coffee maker for you
There are four main types of coffee maker, each of which is suited to different needs:
Espresso maker: If you want the full flexibility to create anything from espresso to ristretto to cappuccino, an espresso maker, similar to that which you see in coffee shops, is the best choice. The downside here is that you’ll need to manually grind and add the coffee, steam your own milk, and repeat for every cup.
Automatic coffee maker: If that all sounds like a bit too much work, but you still like the idea of using coffee beans, then an automatic coffee maker is the right choice, as it grinds and pours coffee automatically. Simply pop water and coffee beans in the machine, and you can get a shot of coffee at the press of a button, with no clean up required between shots. Spend more, and machines include integrated milk frothers which do the work of heating the milk to exactly the right temperature for you and provide a cappuccino or white coffee with almost zero effort.
Single-serve pod or capsule coffee maker: These cost more per cup than the other types of coffee maker here, but the benefit is simplicity. Each pod or capsule contains the perfect amount of coffee, and you can simply buy the type with the strength (this is normally rated out of 10) and flavor you like best. For hassle-free, mess-free coffee, they’re hard to beat.
Filter coffee maker: If you just want plain and simple coffee to fill a cup, or want to be able to make enough coffee for several people at once, a filter coffee maker is a great choice. These generally require you to use ground coffee (although a few do have integrated grinders), but they’re a good bet for making simple, fuss-free black coffee.